Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary Saba&Savta!!!

After spending a night waking up every 40 minutes in order to turn-over I was awake for the day at 7am.

At around 11:30 I drove a container of chicken soup down to a sick neighbor on the other side of town.

On the way Home I stopped at the grocery store with the express purpose of purchasing some ribat-chalav (caramel) filled sufganyot. They had them on Friday but I refused to buy any before it was officially the month of Kislev. Sadly, the store didn't have any.

Z called when class ended and asked whether the donut-hunt had been successful - I told him that sadly the store hadn't had any in stock. He insisted that I pick him up from the traffic-circle at the bottom of the hill and that we go on a mission to find the elusive ribat-chalav sufganyot. Finally - at the 3rd store we went to we achieved our goal - 2 'mini' caramel filled, 1 'mini' vanilla custard filled and 1 'mini' jelly filled. We left the store happy!

At a little after 6pm Z informed me that the game-night-guys were all gung-ho for their weekly game-night.

"Great," I thought to myself "now I've got to think of something to make for dinner for a gang of 4."

Thankfully I stocked up on pasta at the big sale 2 weeks ago (5 bags for 10 shekel. Does it get any better than that?) I decided that I hadn't made penne a'la vodka in a while - and that's how I chose the main-dish.

I mixed up a batch of 'the usual' pizza dough - the only difference being that I kneaded in some garlic & basil infused olive oil at the very end. After the rise I divided the dough into quarters - 1/4 became a personal-ziti-pizza for me and the rest of the dough became 26 'knots' (which I drizzled with extra oil and sprinkled with salt when they came out of the oven.)

The thing I had the most trouble deciding on was dessert. Originally I wanted to make a babka but time kept ticking by and before I knew it there was no time for dough to rise. I was too lazy for cookies and didn't have the energy to squeeze oranges for juice for a cake. I wasn't in the 'mood' for brownies or blondies - but I did have a container of sour-cream in the fridge that really needed to get used. And that's how I found myself making raspbery rugelach with white chocolate. Next time I'll definitely roll the dough out on powdered sugar for a bit of a flavor-upgrade, but the texture of the pastry was spot-on amazing.

The guys all seemed quite satisfied with the meal, the house smelled amazing and I took that as a sign of success.

Now I'm absolutely exhausted. I've got to get up early tomorrow morning so I guess I'll go to sleep as soon as possible.

Literally - I'm going to hit 'publish' and then fall asleep for the night.

I love having a snack-table next to my bed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Real Live Puppies!!!

Shabbos was delightful. We enjoyed our Fakesgiving meal Friday night and 'brunch' for the morning meal was also really delicious. Tonny & Tzivia joined us for the weekend and it was so nice to actually spend time with them.

Friday night: roasted garlic, chumus, matbucha, chicken soup with (super fluffy) matzah balls, whole roasted chicken (I butterflied it and it fit in the pan and oven so much more nicely), sweet potato pie (I added 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to the mixture), mashed potatoes, peas, miniature corn muffins.

Shabbos lunch: roasted garlic & cherry tomatoes, chumus, matbucha, pickles, israeli salad, 'salad bar' (big bowl of lettuce, orange segments, craisins, candied pecans, slivered almonds & sweet dressing), sliced veggies (mushrooms, carrots, 3 colors of peppers), carrot kugel, broiled salmon with citrus glaze, tomato onion cheese quiche.

Dessert: a BIG tray of brownies topped with heavenly chocolate ganache.

We shmoozed until 2am Friday night and I was worried I wouldn't wake up on time in the morning but my bio-clock is wound waaaay too well for 'oversleeping' so I was awake at 7am anyway. I woke Z in time for shul and then read for a while until it seemed late enough to get up and get everything organized for lunch.

We spent all of the afternoon playing 2 intense games of 'Cities & Knights' and somehow I won 2 of the 3 games that we played - though I'm still not sure how it happened.

After our guests left we straightened up the apartment a bit and then decided to watch a movie.

Sunday morning dawned cold and bright. The construction workers arrived at the site to turn on the machines, let them run for a bit then they turned them off and left for the day. I have a funny feeling that not too much construction is actually going to get done over the winter.

I don't have too many plans for the rest of the week. Blood-test Tuesday and an appointment at the dr. on Thursday. Grocery shopping on Wednesday with Z (for Shabbos.) Possibly 'game night' Monday (if the guys don't have to spend all night at their 'hagasha' (presentation).

I've already got a tentative menu plan for this week - but I doubt I'll stick to it.
Sunday: Shabbos leftovers
Monday: Penne A'la Vodka & breadsticks
Tuesday: pulled chicken & tortillas
Wednesday: soup from the freezer (carrot or split pea)
Thursday: little white fishies & seasoned potato wedges

I'm also really excited that Kislev is here! I can't wait to get a sufganya! I've decided to indulge in 2 this year - one in honor of rosh chodesh and one on Channuka. Do you reckon I can stick to the plan and control myself? I'm not so sure...but we'll see how it goes.

Chodesh Tov everyone!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Count Roquefort of Cheese...

I woke up at 7:55 this morning. Which I think sounds like a reasonable hour for a self-employed work-from-home gal to be waking up - but for me that's pretty late - so I was already behind-schedule.

To make up for 'oversleeping' I spent the morning lazing around in bed with the laptop. I did get up and organize the ingredients to bake challah at some point - but I quickly decided that it was too cold to be productive so I got back into bed.
On Thursdays in the early afternoon Z has an hour and a half long break between classes. Usually he comes Home and finds himself some lunch but today I dragged him out to town so that we could pick up the last of the things on my shopping list that I wanted for Shabbos.

Late yesterday afternoon I was informed that since it's Thanksgiving Weekend that it would be very much appreciated if I'd make an appropriate meal-plan for the Friday night meal. I had written up a menu on Sunday but I just tossed it out the window and re-wrote the whole thing.
At 3:45 this afternoon I finally got off my lazy bum and started cooking for Shabbos. Challot, lemonade, pie-crusts, matzah ball batter(?), sweet potato pie, chicken soup and miniature corn muffins - because I know Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving for Z without the cornbread. (What can I say - I guess I do have a soft spot for him in my heart after all and I love to see him happy.)
To indulge my neurosis I rolled the pie crust a drop thinner than usual and mixed up a bit more filling than the recipe called for so that I would have enough to make a tiny-pie in addition to the big one.

After all - we're having guests for Shabbos and there's no way I was going to serve an 'untried' recipe for the very first time...

Ok. Fine. You got me.

I just REALLY wanted some sweet potato pie.

And man oh man - was it good!

Monday, November 21, 2011

< bump > (?)

Because sometimes you say things and they're so true and so funny at the very same time -
"I used up my white wine in the onion soup for shabbos and now I used up my cheese in dinner. So tomorrow I'll go buy wine so I can add it to the leftover soup and cheese so I can finally make myself my broccoli & mushroom calzones! lol! I have big goals."
 Because sometimes things really aren't as simple as they sound -
"the client wants a dove with an olive branch in its mouth, a rainbow that is wide in the middle and narrow at the end makes you think of a circle but isn't shaped like a crescent and 3 words of text (in a line). Also, everything should look 'self-contained' but the image and the text should also be able to be used separately."
Because sometimes the truth is obvious but still needs to be said -
Me to Z: "Minestrone soup & an overstuffed vegetable-pizza-braid for dinner for you and your friends. (And loads of clean socks for your wearing pleasure...) I hope you realize how much I love you."
My earlier post might have made it seem like I was sitting in bed and having a pity-party while beating myself up for not doing anything productive. I just wanted to clarify that the goal of the post was to spur me into action and it sure served its purpose well. I did 4 loads of laundry, changed the sheets on all 4 beds (and washed the linens), scrubbed the guest bathroom clean, washed the shower-rod and hooks in my bathroom and finally changed the shower curtain, sent out a 2nd and 3rd draft of the graphics project I'm working on and phone-conference-d with the client, straightened up the kitchen and the living room and I even made dinner for Z and his friends.

Now it's 9:30pm and I am officially exhausted. Thankfully it's just the guys tonight so I can crash whenever I want. Which is good - cause I'm thinking that 9:45pm would be the perfect bedtime...

Bubbles & Flutters

Shabbos seems like it was ages ago - even though today is only Monday.

Friday was a busy day. We went out to town (and took Sara with us.) Our yishuv acceptance letter was waiting for us at the post office, we shmoozed with some friends and then we rushed home so that Z would be on time for his driving lesson.

It was super-chilly on Saturday and I was very happy to have the heaters set up on timers to keep the room warm.

All of the food for the weekend came out amazingly delicious. I made 4 recipes from an old blog that I stumbled across and they all came out really well. Chicken paprikash, 2 knish doughs and a cinnamon cake for dessert. There was a ton of other food too - even though it was just the 2 of us - but the most exciting was the onion soup which I made in the tiny 6 cup crock-pot that Freddie gave to me (because it only makes about 2 bowlfuls of soup and that's nowhere near enough for them.)

Sunday was pretty boring. I did the first draft of that graphics work that was waiting for me - and as predicted the client wants it to look 'smooth &shiny' but his logo is awful colors and pointy. Why don't people realize that you can't quite achieve the same look of a cool-wave of gray, green and black if you're stuck working with a wordy logo with a big star in robin's egg blue and creamsicle orange? I'm sure there are other graphic-artists who could come up with better ideas than I'm getting - but I'm kind of lost on this one. I think this will be my last graphics project. I'm seriously considering closing the tik - I know, I only opened it in May so it's been a short run - but the amount of paperwork and money paid to bituach leumi and an accountant just isn't worth it. I should've listened to the other people who 'told me so' before I wasted the time, energy and effort. Well - now I know.

There are so many things that need to get done around the apartment and I'm just not physically feeling up to doing them, even though my brain is desperate to get stuff organized. It's grossing me out that summer-dust is still coating all of the shelves in the house, and that the top of my fridge is a disaster area, and that the bars on my showers are grimy... Heck, the shower curtain in my bathroom ripped and is now knotted to itself to stay up - I have a new one (that I've been meaning to hang for ages) but I just haven't done it. Plus now it's cold so it makes me want to curl up and hibernate instead of cleaning.

Aaaaand this is why I was supposed to be home before RoshHashana and not on 'sick-leave' in The Sun House. Because the 'cleaning weather' passed too quickly and now my house is going to continue to make me nauseous and grossified (is that even a word?!) until the spring comes - and by then I KNOW I won't have the time or energy to clean everything from top-to-bottom. Ugh. So frustrating!!!

Ok - this post is turning into a rant because everything feels like it's spiraling out of control - even though in reality there is barely anything going on. Not that it matters, I barely spend 5 hours out of bed or off of the couch in a week anyway. This is getting REALLY REALLY old.

Bring back the 74-degree weather!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ultimate Productive Procrastination

Today there were a lot of things that were supposed to get done. I didn't do very many. I was supposed to put together a stationary-set for a client (they finally sent me the information I needed yesterday) but after an hour and a half of fiddling around with it I got frustrated. So far I have 2 envelope-design ideas and 4 letterhead ideas. Personally, I don't like any of them and I'm pretty sure the client won't be thrilled either. Bad news for me. Seriously, bad news. (Especially since he wanted this done - as he put it - "yesterday"...)
I made myself rice for lunch because I just wasn't in the mood to scrub a potato. Doesn't mean I skipped the potatoes though - no - I ate the rice with potato chips. My very favorite way since going FF - and I haven't had that combo in about three and a half months.
Yesterday I was trying to puzzle out my Shabbos menu. It's going to be a quiet weekend here, but we still need food. I got a serious hankering for knishes. As you may remember, I've been searching for 'THE' knish-dough for ages. I'd tried 3 recipes so far (and they were all failures in my book) but I was still far from beaten. The other day I stumbled upon a very cute little food-blog which hasn't been updated since 2009. But the author holds to 'kashrut' (which means no meat&dairy or treif foods) and also means good for me! He had 3 variations of knish dough posted, so I wrote them down and decided to try out 2 of them.

The first recipe turned out this ridiculously flaky pasty dough. It would be amazing for strudel. As a matter of fact - I'm going to make strudel with it. It made darn good knishes but they probably won't be as tasty once they're reheated. I went with a kasha filling (because I love kasha!) I used an egg and some mashed potatoes to hold the insides together. I got 18 out of this first batch - but we gobbled up 9 of them straight out of the oven.

I've been a little overzealous with the measuring lately and have been overestimating amounts quite frequently of late - so there was a lot (and I mean A LOT) of filling left over. That was alright though - because I had a 2nd recipe of dough to try out. I made up the dough but haven't gotten around to shaping the knishes yet - so I'll have to keep you posted on how they turn out...
I had a surprise visitor at around 4:00 which was a lot of fun. I love it when Sara stops by! Especially when I'm having cold lonely days. We entertained ourselves for a while then she had to go back to her dorm to study. (She's quite a studious one nowadays!) But it's ok - we're gonna see her tomorrow, cause we're going to go on a trip into town to pick up the last-minute things for Shabbos. Like more gummy worms and fresh chumus and all that important stuff!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

19+5 = Beans

The days just keep flying by. One might think I was actually busy based on my lack-of-posting. That would be partly accurate. I've been busy sleeping 11 hours every night (does it count if you wake up a zillion times?) and writing proposals for clients (though I'm still waiting for 'go aheads' and information so that I can actually do the projects.)

Last Shabbos was delightfully relaxing. Ayala came alone and we spent the whole weekend reading. Sunday was quiet and boring but I made a lot of progress on the Snoopy hook-rug.

Monday morning I finally finished the snoopy hook-rug (now it just needs to get washed and framed.) Monday night was super-busy - some of the game-crew was scheduled to come over so I had to make dinner. It was quite chilly so I decided on salad, carrot soup and fresh bread. I made up 2 batches of dough and put them to rise just as an insane thunderstorm knocked out power in the whole city. I found some candles, lit them and settled on the couch praying that the power would come back by the time I had to bake the bread. Thankfully a few minutes after shaping the loaves the lights came back so I preheated the oven and baked up a world of deliciousness. Z and 2 friends arrived soaked through-and-through and after drying off they were quite thrilled to sit down to a warm filling meal.

Next time I make this bread I will bake it in 2 loaf pans instead of as one HUGE braided loaf. It was delicious though - light and fluffy but decidedly bread-y. In an attempt to 'change things up' I diced an onion, sauteed it until softened and kneaded it along with all of the oil into the dough. The leftovers of the onion-loaf made an amazing breakfast - toasted with a drop of salted-butter.

Tuesday was an absolute waste of a day. I did nothing. Z washed the dishes though - so at least something got done in the house.

Which brings us to today. Another Wednesday. Z just left for his 5th driving-lesson (out of 28) - he seems to be doing quite well. The sky is gray and angry looking and I'm wondering if another thunderstorm is on the way. I've got to go out to the grocery store at some point - and would definitely rather do that when it's not pouring.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend. Maybe we'll pull out the radiators for the heck of it (since it's been averaging 64F in the apartment this week - and 62F this morning...)

I'm thinking more soup for dinner. Isn't the winter great?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

19 Gummy Bears & Jellybeans...

What I got done today:

- Cooked chicken soup for Shabbos
- Reorganized and cleaned out the freezer
- Took: matzah balls, matbucha and chicken pot pie out of the freezer for Shabbos meals
- Baked a batch of pretty sugar cookies
- Baked a batch of challah
- Made pasta with alfredo sauce for lunch when Z came back from his field-trip
- 4 loads of laundry (washed, dried, folded & put away)
- Taught Z how to make microwave popcorn
- Watched the 2nd half of season 2 of 'The Good Wife'
- Took my vitamins
- Ate enough to feed a small whale for a week (the dr. will be proud)

There's still so much to do tomorrow so I'm freaking out a little even though I know that it will be fine. It's just that Z has his 2nd driving lesson and I really need to go out to town to get some last-minute groceries. I like early Shabbatot much more that late summer Shabbatot but I definitely feel more pressured in the winter.

Wish me luck.

I'm tired already...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

2 Tbsps are Perfect

This morning's official (second) breakfast of champions. (That's me - the champion!) My latest easy food-thing is microwaved baked potatoes. I scrub the tuber really well, then dry it off and poke it a whole lot of times with a fork. Then I throw it into the microwave for 5 minutes on high. When it's done I give it a squeeze to see how much more time it'll need then usually reset the timer and let the box 'zap' the spud for another 2-5 minutes. Today after the first 7 minutes I cut the potato open, put some cheese on top and stuck it back in until the cheese got all bubbly and delicious. Oh yes and I'm a very big fan of cranberry juice - I drink it mixed with seltzer. It's got this delightful sour tang to it that I'm kinda sorta hooked on.
In other news - I have a lot of pretty colored fruits and veggies sitting around and begging to be used. Not quite sure what to make yet - but with Shabbos coming I'm sure I'll come up with some brilliant plans. 
Just in case you were wondering where the Pam went - it got a makeover. Instead of short cheap-o looking Pam, now you get tall fancy looking Pam! Isn't that exciting?!
Z loves me. He made a batch of fresh soft pretzels. He makes good doughs because he's got a lot of upper-body-strength. See - sometimes the brawn is more important. Only kidding...or am I?
 Frizzie was pleased with the pretzelicious results. We ate 3 of them for fourth-lunch (or maybe it was pre-dinner? It's hard to keep track...)
Tomorrow - cooking for Shabbos. I mixed up a batch of sugar cookie dough today, so I guess I'll have to bake them tomorrow too.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rugel:Rugelach :: Naah:Naot ?

I can be a little 'anal' at times. There - I admitted it. Cause you know, it wasn't obvious from the way I make armies of perfectly shaped mini-quiches, or the way I refuse to serve 'messy-looking' cookies, or the way I ~insist~ that all of the peel needs to be off of my potatoes and carrots, or the way I cut out all of the white stuff inside of a pepper... Hehe - I feel like I'm incriminating myself in trying to prove this point.

So - one of my pet-peeves is tomato seeds and skins. I just can't help it. I may have learned to tolerate and even sometimes enjoy the flavor of tomato but the skins and seeds are just unpalatable to me. For the record - me liking tomato is major progress from the days of old wherein presented with a slice of pizza I would immediately grab a napkin and a knife to remove the offending cheese and all traces of anything resembling tomato-ness. Oh yeah - and that time I threw a level5 temper-tantrum because some sauce touched the pasta on my plate. (And now I'm wondering how/why my parents never strangled me...)

Back to the point - today I decided to make tomato soup but I was out of tomato paste. How is one expected to make a smooth and creamy tomato soup without tomato paste? (And what did people used to do before tomato paste came in conveniently measured out little packets anyway?) Well - I decided to find out. I stuck some tomatoes in the food processor and pulsed until I had what I supposed would be referred to as 'chopped tomato' then I poured them into a pot with the water, sugar (yeah, I like my tomato-soup sweet), salt and pepper. I let everything boil until I determined that all of the goodness had leeched out of the tomatoes. Then I made up a roux and proceeded to strain the tomato-broth through a relatively-fine-mesh-strainer into the thickener. A quick stir to incorporate everything then I brought the soup up to a boil. An hour to simmer and then - mmmm, heaven in a bowl.

Who needs that processed tomato paste stuff anyway? Not me. That's for sure.

And that's how we get stuff done.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Brags for 20pts

Today I drank 2 liters if water, went to the grocery store, and ate enough to feed a small horse.

Does that constitute a productive day?


Sincerely hoping for a 1-day general strike tomorrow. It's like the Israeli way of wrangling 'snow-days' out of the system...

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Do a Barrel Roll...

I am officially tired of making small things. Can I quit?

Shabbos was ok. I was so busy coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose I barely noticed the time passing (except for the 4 hours last night which went by at a slow crawl because all I really wanted to do was sleep.) It also rained - quite a bit. It was also notably chilly - which was nice but would be nicer if I could have curled up with a shmoiling hot water bottle on my stomach under my quilt.

As a direct result of being too lazy to turn on my cell-phone on Saturday nights after havdala, Z and I missed out on a 'game night' with a bunch of neighbors on the other side of town. It's alright though - who needs friends when you've got sniffles&tissues, animated movies and leftover chana-masala?

In other news - I've decided that the guys who live upstairs are actually super-heroes.  They have a phone which rings often and a lot. How much is often? Well, it rings at all hours of the day and night - different times every day/night - and when I say all day and night I mean, anytime from 2am to 11pm and anywhere in-between. It also rings a lot - and by 'a lot' I mean that the things 'ringringring's a minimum of 8 annoying 'ringringring's every time (but it has gone up to 35 without any pause.) So the way I figure it - they're super-heroes, the phone is their special line to the mayor and man oh man are they kept BUSY. Well - either that or they're hiding from debt-collectors...

Friday, November 04, 2011

288,000 Jellybeans?!

Long night and my arm is ache-y from the flu shot. But I got up this morning and in an effort to be productive I put together 2 batches of pie-dough. While they chilled we went out to the grocery store to pick up some chumus and a new box (or 4) of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. (The cereal was on sale - 2 boxes for 30 shekel - so I couldn't say no...)

Back at Home I assembled the mini-pastels (with a lamb/cow chopped meat combo that Z seems to love.) They smelled incredible and Z was a bit overeager to try them so I let him have one for lunch too. (Am I nice or what?)
Clean floors, clean sheets, clean pajamas - I guess I'm ready for Shabbos.

Have a good one everybody!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

18 Tomorrow!

Today was relatively productive. I woke up at around 7:30 and Z brought me breakfast at 8ish. I gave myself a 5-star spa treatment (because I felt like I deserved it) and then I did 4 loads of laundry and cleaned the hair out of the shower drain (because there's just stuff that's gotta get done sometimes.)

The afternoon flew by and at 4 I had a doctors appointment which went very well. My weight is finally going up (and yes, this is cause for celebration - which is kind of ironic - but that's just life I guess.) Z's afternoon class was cancelled so he actually came with me and while we were there the nice nurse offered to give us our 'complimentary flu shots' so we put on our brave-faces and got immunized.

It's been storming outside for the last couple of hours. Our very first winter thunder/lightning show of the season. Super exciting, because we really really need the rain!

Shabbos is just about prepared. Challah, soup, dips and lunch are all coming out of the freezer. All that's left for tomorrow is to make mini-pastels (meat pies) and some sort of dessert. And I guessing we'll probably want to plug in the urn for tea. Gosh it got chilly in the last couple of weeks!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Spageta Nadl?

In an attempt to utilize my time more efficiently today I decided to be somewhat productive. I'll start with a picture of something I did last week - just to put last week's productivity on display for the sake of comparison. See, last week I made potato blintzes for Shabbos. I actually ended up making them on Friday morning, because I wanted to eat (a lot of) them fresh out of the frying pan, crispy and delicious for lunch on Friday too.
Yesterday I spent the entire day in bed feeling miserable. Z gave me a second cold. It's nice that he wants to share - but why doesn't he ever share nice stuff like candy and chocolate?!
The photo above and below have nothing to do with each other. I bought a (big) popcorn bucket because the idea of having an actual popcorn-vessel made me extremely giddy. I was overcome with excitement and so I bought it. Only when I got Home did I remember that I don't eat popcorn. Reality checks make me sad. Anyway - I still like it - it's hard durable plastic and I think I'll fill it with potato chips or cookies or something else - who knows - maybe even with a whole box of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch...
And just in case you are inspired to make candy here's a little video to show you what you'll be doing most of the time... watching the syrup - checking the thermometer - watching the syrup - checking the thermometer... It's actually a time-consuming process - but it's also super easy.
Tomorrow is Thursday again. Sheesh. Days just fly on by. It's craaaazy!